So, this is been a post I waited to do for a long time and I am so happy we got t it together finally:)… Kevin is the guy behind all the Jack FM Network Imaging, based in Benztown’s LA office. As Jack is so different in terms of everything I bet this will be an inspirational interview for all of you and maybe get your creative juices flowing again. Learn why Howard Cogan can read an introduction manual and still be funny, what plugINs Kevin is using to get the Jack sound and why you need to wear a mask, when Imaging Jack.. Enter Kevin!
- How is it to image Jack in general?
The Jack brand is so iconic and well respected, I’m really not sure why they have me working on the imaging for the national network. I can’t think of another brand that has been able to give their station such a clear personality (even if it’s a personality coming from a dumpy building at the edge of the bad part of your town). The Jack station here in Los Angeles (93.1 KCBS) imaged by Mike Crank sets the bar really high. Like pole-vault high, so I just walk underneath (i don’t even have to duck). It’s really different from doing sports imaging where its aggressive and fast, filled with information and FX. I find myself writing in the tone of Jack for our Adrenaline library and then using the delete button a lot.
- Working with Horward Cogan, what makes it a special experience?
I’m pretty sure Howard could read an instruction manual and still make people laugh (or subliminally start thinking about what time Modern Family comes on). He has such a great delivery and natural sarcasm that it’s hard to separate the man from the brand. If you haven’t checked out his Vlog, I highly recommend it. His production value is second to none and you can see it takes a pretty large team to keep the operation running.
- A general Jack Session, how does it look? What is the setup? Any favorite plugIns?
A normal session would basically have 1 track for VO a couple tracks for FX, and a 2-3 music tracks. There are very few times i’ll put any FX like delays or distortion on Howard’s VO (unless the script lends to it). Really, my job is to stay out of his way. Some light compression on the VO and a side chain compressor on the music bus to make sure the VO sits on top. Then to keep it all rounded out, an L3 on the master. Simple and effective.
- What type of SFX / FX do you choose for Jack and why?
When choosing sounds for Jack I try to make sure they are as realistic as possible. If that means breaking some glass in the office or opening a beer bottle for that perfect sound, we’ll do it (for the art). Lately I’ve been using a lot of Alien Imaging FX to get in and out and keep the pace moving. I love cheesy music beds and trying to make sure the feel of whats being said is amplified by the beds/loops i choose. Hip Hop and 808 based loops always give me a good groove, without being too busy and distracting from the VO. They’re also just out of place enough in the Jack world to make you question what you’re hearing.
- Creative writing and the translation in sound – what is your favorite techniques to make things stand out/that work?
The writers for Jack are great. The team consists of Justin Cranfill, John Salwin, Ralph Stewart, Ed Moloney, and sometimes Howard does improv. I’m pretty sure they are paid in sour patch kids. They only think about Kim Kardashian and Kanye and sausage. Not necessarily in that order. I read the lines and get a good laugh every week. I always find it amusing when a listener’s name is used. I think it grabs peoples’ attention and we all know Shelly isn’t really allergic to playing what we want. The build up to a dry line is also something I try to find in the writing. If I can find the right place to crescendo the VO to a dramatic dry punch line.… that’s what I’ll do.
- How close do you work with the writers? How difficult is it to get into the Jack mode?
I haven’t had the opportunity to work with the writing team. I’m like the inker or colorist they draw the character out and I provide the depth and shading.
Getting into the Jack mode requires a 64oz diet mountain dew and 2 Slim Jims, it’s a pretty extreme mindset. I generally read through the script, cut up the VO so I know the delivery and inflection Howard went with, and make notes on where I need certain SFX or specific beds. Then I forget about all of that and just put together some sweepers that will sound decent going into Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69”.
- Any advice for people who want to get more familiar with this type of writing/imaging?
For this type of imaging, think dark. Don’t show your family or friends cause they’ll think something is wrong with you. Then bring it back to a happier, less psychotic place. But really, the writing and delivery are everything for Jack so just stay out of the way, and color in the details.